Monday, April 09, 2012

Jesus discovered America! II

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it!

Among the truly cockeyed, cock-a-hoop assertions make by Katie in her annual Easter cudgel column, which I introduced yesterday, this is merely among the more remarkable:
But America's debt to Christianity and its Jewish roots [beyond, according to Katie, eradicating slavery, poverty and child labor] goes even deeper. Our nation is unique in being founded on an idea, a proposition. At the heart of that vision is the Judeo-Christian God, and his creation of a man as a being of unique standing in a universe characterized by a moral law that man can know through reason.
As an aside, it is always fun to see Katie drag the Jews into it, especially on Easter. I charge it off to the fact that Mitch Pearlstein is her boss.

The proof that Katie offers is, naturally, the Declaration of Independence:
The Declaration of Independence puts it this way: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
That's right, boys and girls, every other nation in the history of the world was founded on some grubby existentialism, unworthy of respect. I don't know about you, but it makes me extra proud to be an American [cue Lee Greenwood].

Christian partisans like Katie forget -- or choose to ignore -- that the addressee of the "take a hike" letter, written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, was George III. King George believed that he ruled -- and was entitled to do so -- under a doctrine supported by the Church of England known as the "divine right of kings." This was not, as you have probably deduced, an especially egalitarian notion.

Of the Christians among the founders, apparently most were Church of England types. So go figure.

Some of the founders, including Jefferson himself, were anti-cleric:
Fundamentalist Christians are currently working overtime to convince the American public that the founding fathers intended to establish this country on "biblical principles," but history simply does not support their view. The men mentioned above and others who were instrumental in the founding of our nation [George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and James Monroe] were in no sense Bible-believing Christians. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was fiercely anti-cleric. In a letter to Horatio Spafford in 1814, Jefferson said, "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes."
In thumbing his nose at George III, Jefferson was more interested taking down the divine right of kings than he was in installing "Judeo-Christianity" based on "biblical principles" in a new nation.

The Enlightenment -- of which Jefferson was a fan -- animated Jefferson a lot more than the Bible, great parts of which he rejected with Exacto knife precision.

The Enlightenment had its roots in Europe, not America.

The reason that people like Katie need to be watched so carefully and challenged on this blather is that it isn't just an academic exercise for her. She has an agenda, and that is the substitution of religious principles -- her religious principles, by the way -- for the civic and secular ones envisioned by the founders, and which people like Kersten, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson and an un-heavenly host of others have been trying to subvert for a generation.

More about that in the next post.

(The image is from City Pages; it is obviously a screen shot from a video or television program, but it is not otherwise attributed.)

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